This poster was part of a series of advertisements during the 1920s targeted at the United States market promoting Bacardi Rum as produced in Cuba.
A common misconception about this particular poster is that it was released in the 1960s, in reference to the extradition of the Bacardi family from Cuba to the United States during October 1960, when Bacardi operations and assets in Cuba were suddenly seized by revolutionary government forces.
But alas, it was another form of tricky politics that actually gave rise to this poster four decades earlier in the 1920s: the US Prohibition Laws. After the sale and manufacture of alcohol in the United States was banned, the Bacardi bottling facility in America was shuttered. In a savvy pivot by Bacardi's marketing team and a classic example of making lemonade out of lemons, this poster was launched to promote Cuba to would-be American tourists as a enticing, exotic escapade from punitive drinking restriction back home. Americans seeking reprieve, and cocktail or two, were encouraged to travel to Cuba to try Bacardi rum for themselves.
The poster depicts a bat - the symbol of Bacardi - carrying a gleeful American away from Florida and towards the land of Cuba, where a fresh bottle of Bacardi rum awaits, in the hands of a welcoming Islander. A lush palm tree and blue ocean waves add to the imagery of Cuba as a mirage. I also love the cheeky callout of Prohibition Era America as the "desert" - no doubt a reference to the country's very 'dry' few years .
If you're wondering how the bat became a symbol for Bacardi, this can be traced back to 1862 when Bacardi's founder Don Facundo Bacardí Massó's wife, Doña Amalia, was inspired by a colony of fruit bats hanging in the rafters of the distillery. Bats have traditionally been regarded as symbols of good health and fortune to the Spanish and Cuban Taíno Indians. Bacardi was even known to Cubans for a time as the “el ron del murcielago” – the rum of the bat.